“Insurance consultants were shocked recently to learn that Obama administration rules allow large companies to offer 2015 worker health plans that don’t include hospital benefits. Now the administration is concerned too.
Treasury Department officials are preparing to reverse course on an official calculator that permits plans without hospital coverage to pass the health law’s strictest standard for large employers, said industry lawyers who have spoken to them. These sources expect the administration to disallow such coverage by the end of the year.”

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“The producer of a new movie that criticizes Obamacare has reportedly become the latest prominent conservative slapped with an IRS audit.
Logan Clements, producer of “Sick and Sicker: ObamaCare Canadian Style,” announced via press release Tuesday that he is being audited for the first time ever.”

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“There are dozens of ways to escape Obamacare’s individual mandate tax — but good luck figuring that out come tax season.
Tens of millions of Americans can avoid the fee if they qualify for exemptions like hardship or living in poverty, but the convoluted process has some experts worried individuals will be tripped up by lost paperwork, the need to verify information with multiple sources and long delays that extend beyond tax season.
“It’s not going to be pretty,” said George Brandes, vice president of health care programs at Jackson Hewitt, a tax prep firm. “Just because you theoretically qualify for hardship, or another exemption, doesn’t mean you’re going to get it.””

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“It’s been more than four, long painful years since the Affordable Care Act became law.
When it passed, many believed small-business owners and their employees would suffer under its weight. That’s why my organization, the National Federation of Independent Business, tried to stop it by suing the federal government.
Since the Supreme Court’s disappointing decision in 2012 to uphold Obamacare, the results for small business continue to be alarmingly bad or disastrous.”

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“WASHINGTON, D.C. — Although more provisions of the Affordable Care Act have taken effect over the past year, more Americans still say the law has hurt rather than helped them. Compared with early 2014, fewer Americans say it has had no effect, although this group is still in the majority, at 54%.
Americans overall are both more positive and more negative about the law’s effect on themselves and their families. Since the start of this year, the percentage saying the law has helped them has increased from 10% to 16%, while the percentage saying it has hurt them has also gone up, and by a similar amount, from 19% to 27%.”

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“President Obama said healthcare costs are rising for Indiana steel workers because employers are not “shopping” correctly for insurance plans during an event at Millennium Steel Service in Princeton, Ind., on Friday.
“We are seeing almost a double-digit increase in health-care costs every year,” General Manager Mihir Paranjape said. “Do you think that trend is going to go down, and what can we do to control that trend?”
“That’s really interesting, you’re gonna have to talk to Henry,” Obama said, referring to the company’s CEO, Henry Jackson. “The question is whether you guys are shopping effectively enough.”
Obama said healthcare premiums were rising at the slowest rate in 50 years and that the higher-ups at Millennium Steel were simply not aware of the options they have in the healthcare market to ensure they are getting the best deal.”

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“Health Reform: Wal-Mart says it’s cutting health benefits to part-timers and boosting worker premiums. If a retail empire built on low prices can’t find a way around ObamaCare’s added costs, we are all doomed.
The world’s biggest retailer announced this week that its health costs will be about 48% higher for the current fiscal year than it had expected in February. As a result, it’s cutting 30,000 part-timers from its health benefit plan, raising worker-paid premiums by 19% and trimming its co-payment for health costs above the deductible.
“We had to make some tough decisions,” benefits director Sally Wellborn told the Associated Press. But to hear President Obama tell it, Wal-Mart just didn’t shop around.”

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“If there’s one thing that the left and right can agree about on Obamacare it’s that the employer mandate is bad policy. The health care law’s requirement that companies with 50 or more full-time equivalent workers offer health insurance locks further in place our unique, and idiosyncratic employer-based health insurance system. But just because the employer-based system of health insurance is itself undesirable, doesn’t mean that there’s nothing we can learn from it. After all, it makes sense that if anyone holds the keys to improving the performance of our health care system, it might just be the companies that have been involved in paying for it for over half a century.
A recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation underscores one such lesson – the growing takeup of private exchanges has the potential to be a catalyst for some major revolutions in our health care system.”

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“The other night in a debate between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and his challenger, Alison Lundergan Grimes (D.), McConnell argued that it was “fine” to keep Kentucky’s insurance exchange, called Kynect, while repealing Obamacare “root and branch.” This has led the lefty blogosphere to explode in outrage. But Sen. McConnell is right. Repealing Obamacare would leave many states’ exchanges in place. But exchanges like Kynect, under a more market-oriented system, would be meaningfully different than those under Obamacare. And that’s a good thing.”

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“As Rich noted the other day, the Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that the uninsured haven’t been rushing to sign up for insurance under Obamacare. From the WSJ:
Early signals suggest the majority of the 2.2 million people who sought to enroll in private insurance through new marketplaces through Dec. 28 were previously covered elsewhere, raising questions about how swiftly this part of the health overhaul will be able to make a significant dent in the number of uninsured.
Insurers, brokers and consultants estimate at least two-thirds of those consumers previously bought their own coverage or were enrolled in employer-backed plans.
Note, this is after decades of liberals insisting that the uninsured were desperate to get insurance and years of Obama officials and defenders swearing that this law would make it happen. Indeed, in order to make it happen the Democrats blew up the entire health-care industry casting millions of people off their existing insurance plans.

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